It is very rare that one has the opportunity to chat with someone that has had such a significant influence on global tourism, in this case through his role as Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation [UMWTO], arguably the single most influential tourism organisation in the world.

Taleb Rifai, pictured, is recognised as a supreme global Influencer and negotiator of the increased and improved understanding of the value and status of tourism on the agenda of world leaders, having travelled widely to meet with hundreds of world leaders in his role as Secretary-General of UNWTO between 2009 and 2017 with future ambitions to continue to spread the word of the powerful role of tourism not only in world economies but also the improved well-being of people throughout the world and also the role of tourism in world peace.

Taleb Rifai

With a stunning career, starting with a BS in Architectural Engineering from the University of Cairo in 1973, Rifai went on to attain a master’s degree in Engineering and Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chicago, the United States in 1979 and a PhD in Urban Design and Regional Planning from the University of Pennsylvania, he has been From 1973 to 1993, Mr Rifai was a professor of Architecture at the University of Jordan in Amman and from 1993 to 1995, headed Jordan’s first Economic Mission to Washington DC, promoting trade, investments, and economic relations between Jordan and the United States.

From 1999 to 2003, he served in several ministerial portfolios in the Government of Jordan including as Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, in charge of Jordan’s Development Agenda and bilateral and multilateral relationships with donors and agencies, Minister of Information, the spokesman of the Government of Jordan, in charge of communications and public media and the Jordan Television Network, within 2001, his portfolio was expanded to include the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquity, where he established Jordan’s first Archaeological Park in the ancient city of Petra in collaboration with UNESCO and the World Bank and he also realized several large projects in Jerash, the Dead Sea, and Wadi Rum.

As Minister of Tourism, he was the Chairman of the Jordan Tourism Board, President of the Amman School for Tourism and Hospitality and was elected Chairman of the Executive Council of UNWTO in 2001 and the Assistant Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), and Deputy Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) from February 2006 to February 2009, at which point he took over the role of Secretary-General.

He is a Member of the Advisory Council – Air B&B; Ambassador – World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC); a Member of Board of Trustees – Mediterranean Tourism Foundation (MTF); Patron – African Tourism Board (ATB); Chairman – International Institute for Peace Through Tourism (IIPT); Chairman – The International Tourism & Investment Conference (ITIC); Chairman – United Nations Institute for Training & Research (UNITAR), CIFAL Malaga; Co-Chairman – International Tourism Resilience & Crises Management (ICTRCM); Vice-Chairman – Board of Trustees – Middle East University (MEU); and Vice-Chairman – International Sports & Tourism Organization (ISTO).

Please join me as I chat with Taleb Rifai, about the UNWTO and what he did at UNWTO and the relevance of UNWTO, what he believes were his biggest achievements in the UNWTO, and even before that, what are his future ambitions and what he believes is the future of tourism post the current middle eastern issues and COVID-19.

To view our extremely interesting and revealing discussion please click on the video below:-

An interview with Taleb Rifai, former Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation, by John Alwyn-Jones, Special Correspondent Travel and Tourism and Presenter and Producer Global Travel Media TV